Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  When I complete the application, does that mean my student will be enrolled?

A:  No, the application form is step one.  The information you submit will be reviewed and you will be asked for additional documentation to verify family income, student’s date of birth and your residency.  If your income appears to make your student Head Start eligible, your application will be shared with them for family contact on the options for Head Start services. 

Q:  When will I know for sure if my child has a slot in a classroom?

A:  Both GSRP and Head Start have defined processes and timelines for assigning slots to students.  Neither program will assign a student until eligibility is verified, so working with the staff to provide requested documentation is important.  We understand it can be frustrating to wait, but grant requirements must be followed.  NOTE: GSRP services are not fully offered until final legislative approval is completed.  Prior to that time, you may receive a “pending enrollment” notification if your student's eligibility has been verified.

Q:  I filled out my interest form early. Does that mean I am more likely to get in?

A:  The process is not a “first come-first served” model.  Decisions to accept students are made based primarily on family income.  GSRP assignment of slots begins mid-summer and continues until filled.  Waiting to apply and submit your verification documents may limit the number of slots left open. 

Q:  How are students selected for the preschool programs?

A:  Eligibility is primarily based on family income (Federal Poverty Level) and student's age.  GSRP (State of Michigan funded) and Head Start (federally funded) grants spell out the rules and guidelines each program must use for enrolling. 

Q: What is the difference between Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) and Head Start?

A:  The primary difference is our funding sources, which give us the guidelines for eligibility and services.  Both preschool programs are focused on giving students the best classroom experience possible to prepare them for kindergarten. 

Great Start Readiness Program is available to students aged 4 by December 1st of the current school year.  Eligibility for GSRP requires that family income be below 250% of the federal poverty guidelines with priority given to students based on family income.  Some low-cost tuition slots may be available for over-income families.

Head Start is a program that provides additional support for families beyond the classroom. The program works closely with families to help enhance the student's overall health and nutrition and support parents with  mental, social, and emotional needs. Head Start has services for students aged 3 by September 1st of the current school year.  Most Head Start families must have income below 100% of the federal poverty guidelines.

Q:  Do families get to decide which program their student attends?

A:  All students who are Head Start income eligible will be forwarded to Head Start for their initial process.  Families will be able to discuss with Head Start the opportunities and options the program offers.  Following the discussion, families choosing to decline Head Start services will be considered for GSRP placement.

Q:  If my student doesn't qualify for  GSRP or Head Start are there fee-based programs available?

A:  Yes, you can contact Southwest Child Care Resources at (269) 349-3296 or go online to search for programs at This is Michigan’s system for licensed childcare, including those offering preschool services.


Q:  Do families get to decide which local school GSRP their student attends?

A:  GSRP programs families may request to attend any classroom within the district.  Transportation service is limited to the school district’s bus routes, but families may provide their own transportation. 

Q: In GSRP, are students able to attend across ISD/RESA boundaries?

A:  Van Buren ISD enters into agreements with our bordering districts (Berrien RESA, Allegan AESA, Kalamazoo RESA, and Heritage Southwest Cass ISD).  Transportation and special education services will not be provided across district lines.

Q:  Does my student need to be potty trained?

A:  It is assumed students entering GSRP are toilet trained unless they have a medical or special needs (please share this during the application process-call 539-5214 to discuss).  Students should not be wearing diapers to GSRP.  Staff will teach all students the protocol for the classroom’s bathroom routine, including hand washing.  Staff will respectfully support students if an accident happens during the school day.

Q:  What curriculum is used in GSRP?

A:  Our GSRP programs use either High Scope Preschool Curriculum or Creative Curriculum . These are research based and show positive outcomes for children. Our staff are trained and receive ongoing support from an Early Childhood Specialist.

Contact Phone Numbers

Great Start Readiness Programs: (269) 539-5214

Tri-County Head Start (Van Buren County): (269) 657-2581

Community Action Allegan County Head Start: (269) 673-5472

Kalamazoo RESA Head Start: (269) 250-9845